by Chet Couvillon
The restored historical Texas town of Gruene (pronounced "green") was the perfect place for some first photos of Chet Couvillon's restored 1965 CJ-3B. Chet's 2010 restoration is the latest chapter in the Jeep's 45-year history in his family in Texas. (See Texas: Land of Late Model High Hoods for some "before" photos of this Jeep.) It had become pretty battered, and Chet says he was "green with envy" looking at some of the nice restorations on CJ3B.info. Now it's our turn to look, and appreciate Chet's handiwork. Here's his story. -- Derek Redmond
Everyone in my family simply referred to it as "The Jeep." We never knew what kind of Jeep it was and probably still wouldn't, had it not been for CJ3B.info. I turned to the internet in the mid-90's to find information about the Jeep. It was CJ3B.info that taught me more in one day than anyone in my family knew about the Jeep in the 40+ years we had owned it.
High hood Jeeps are part of Texas history, and as of 2010 can still be found in use on ranches and oilfields. (See Oilfield Jeep on CJ3B.info.)
This photo was taken in front of Gruene Hall, which is the oldest dance hall in Texas, built in 1878.
(Gruene Hall is still in operation too, and bands playing there during October and November 2010 include CJ3B Page favorites Tanya Tucker, Delbert McClinton and Lyle Lovett. Thanks to Caressa Vajdos for the photos taken in Gruene. Click them to see large versions. -- Derek)
It was on CJ3B.info that I caught the bug, the Jeep restoration bug. Seeing all the pretty pictures of 3B's and how glorious they looked when new, made me nostalgic and somewhat sad to see what my 3B had become. To say I became "green with envy" whenever I saw someone complete a 3B restoration and bring their Jeep back to original condition was an understatement. My restoration bug started out to be just a minor fix up. Boy, I had no idea what I was in for!
From as far back as I remember this Jeep has been a part of my life. It holds many special memories of family and friends from the past 44 years. My grandfather, George Chester Grimes (left, in 1975) bought this Jeep in 1964 from Woodies Jeeps in Houston, Texas.
A short 18 months later I was born and as you can see wasted no time in climbing behind the wheel (below, 1967). Ever since this first photo, I always remember happy times behind the wheel. Growing up, when fun was on the agenda, the Jeep was there. Spending summers on Galveston Island, going to "The Other Place" on the Comal River in New Braunfels. See a home movie clip of the family, including Dixie the dog, driving off to float the Comal River, on YouTube.
And of course hunting. This Jeep was purchased to be a hunting vehicle and spent most of its life either on a deer lease or being "flat towed" all across Texas to a deer lease (left, me and my Dad in South Texas, 1974). Doing hard time on deer leases take a toll on a vehicle and many things were added or removed to make hunting life easier. Bumpers were fabricated to hold extra seats, holes were drilled for gun racks, and a broken windshield was removed and discarded.
But I also had the photo of my Mom driving the Jeep when it was brand new, which has been posted on CJ3B.info for years. What started innocently enough as a plan to just fix the Jeep up and get it roadworthy, quickly became an obsession to return it to that showroom condition.
Searching for quality old parts I was introduced to my now favorite acronym, NOS (New Old Stock.) "Go NOS or Go Home" soon became my motto for the restoration, and it helped me get it to the point where Mom could sit in it again, looking exactly like 1965 (right). The only thing missing was the sunglasses.
With the advent of eBay, Jeep restoration has become more accessible. I have come to realize that you can get anything you want with the internet and a credit card, including many NOS goodies (120K JPEGs):
During my restoration a few non-stock upgrades were also added (120K JPEGs):
The many parts sources listed on CJ3B.info were consulted, and I was fortunate to find Vintage Jeep Parts in Beasley, Texas. Russell Anderson, his wife, and son Brad are the First Family of old Jeeps here in Texas. Sure they know old Jeeps, but more importantly, they take the time to understand the needs of the customer. Not only were they my primary part supplier, they also helped in the restoration. I figured I could tackle most of the mechanical stuff, but knew that body work and painting was not my cup of tea. Vintage Jeep Parts helped me order all the right parts, gave great advice along the way, and turned an MD Juan body tub into a work of art (170K JPEG).
My Grandfather purchased the Jeep, but would often be found riding in the passenger seat. This led to a couple of non-standard 3B accessories being added on that side of the vehicle.
A Passenger Safety Rail (grab handle) for him to hang onto while he criticized your driving technique was added, but the second non-standard 3B accessory is my favorite. He would always start the day drinking Coca-Cola out of the small 8 oz. bottles, and would later switch to the "pop with the foam on top." Both of them would require a bottle opener, so he mounted one at a very convenient location: the cover plate for the fresh air style heater.
I did acquire a fresh air heater in great condition, but can't bring myself to remove the cover plate to install it. When it gets cold, I'll just put on a bigger coat.
See the original installation before restoration (110K JPEG), and a close view of the re-chromed Vaughan's Improved Never Chip bottle opener (100K JPEG).
(Elsewhere on the web, see more details on the Vaughan Novelty Mfg. Co who made bottle openers during most of the 20th century. -- Derek)
As for now, I no longer chat with the UPS man every day, and the eBay purchases have slowed down to a trickle. I guess you could say my restoration has reached a comfortable plateau. I continue to check CJ3B.info for tips, advice, and to see all the great 3B photos that gave me the inspiration to tackle this project. Could someone restore a Jeep without CJ3B.info? Perhaps, but there is no way I could have restored my family CJ-3B to this level of satisfaction without CJ3B.info! -- Chet Couvillon
Thanks to Chet for the great photos and story of the restoration. You can see the start-to-finish slide show on YouTube. Also his great "Agent CJ-3B" video in HD or low-res. -- Derek Redmond
See Texas: Land of Late Model High Hoods for more background on the Jeep.
See also photos of Chet On the Show Circuit in Texas.
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